What Nigerian startups do differently to access funding compared to other Africans

In this op-ed, Abiola Bonuola, a Nigerian PR Consultant, writes on why Nigerian startups access more funding compared to other African countries.

What Nigerian startups do differently to access funding compared to other Africans

When Google announced that it had chosen 60 startups for its Black Founders Fund in Africa, many Founders from different countries hurried to check out the successful businesses. Nigeria topped the list with 23 tech startups clinching a third of the total startups funded.

In September 2022, six of the 30 startups from 14 different African countries selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the Investing In Innovation initiative were Nigerian startups. They were OneHealth, Lifebank and many others.

In the same month, Disrupt Africa shared a report that revealed that Nigeria has led tech startup funding on the African continent over the last eight years. Naturally, many other African Founders have wondered what Nigerian startups including OneHealth, an online Pharmacy and healthcare platform, do differently that make them stand out when applying for such opportunities. Let’s take a look at what makes them such fundable startups.

Solve a major problem

A common fact is that each funded Nigerian startup solves a major African problem. For example, OneHealth provides solutions to Africa’s lack of access to essential medications that prevent or treat illnesses in a timely manner.

An article from the United Nations highlighted that at least 1.6 million Africans died of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-related illnesses in 2015. These deaths could have been prevented with access to affordable and quality medications.

For OneHealth, access to medications is a basic human right and this is why the startup leverages technology for last-mile delivery of medicines and aggregates partners with different health service providers to offer relevant health solutions to many people. So far, the startup has helped at least 8000 people gain access to pharmacare from a network of over 1000 partners across the 36 states of Nigeria.

Founded by Adeola Alli, a graduate of the school of Pharmacy at the University of Manchester with an MBA from I.E Madrid, and licensed in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, OneHealth has proven that it can directly save the lives of people living in Africa by providing access to medicines and healthcare solutions for individuals and healthcare providers.

Join a community of tech leaders

Nigerian Founders also have a good community of partners, friends, colleagues, classmates, and even family who in one way or another other invest in the country’s tech ecosystem. These Nigerian Founders build communities that help each other succeed and they get to share the best opportunities possible, grow their networks and drive their startups effortlessly.

Based on Funmilayo Labulo’s discourse on communities for Startup Founders, she highlighted that communities are easier because they are immediate sources of information and support.

For OneHealth’s Founder, Adeola Alli, “Community is everything, not just for the obvious reasons like business partnerships, but really as a support group. Who can better understand the trials and triumphs that come with running a startup?”.

Healthtracka’s CEO & Co-founder, Ifeoluwa Dare-Johnson once said that “The tech ecosystem is not as that clicker but finding your tribe, people that support you would make life easier in the tech space”.


Related Article: How to increase investment in Africa’s healthtech sector

Have a scalable startup

Many Nigerian startups are quite scalable. Zuckerberg visited Yaba, an area in Lagos known as Nigeria’s Silicon Valley in 2016 because he truly believed he could learn a lot from the startup ecosystem in the country. And he did.

Zuckerberg singled out startups like Lifebank, a healthcare technology and logistics company for their ability to locate available blood supplies and deliver them to hospitals.

Lifebank continues to scale because they have a track record and expansion trajectory. Many Doctors and patients will continue to need blood in hospitals and this automatically created a demand for Lifebank’s services.

The same applies to OneHealth. The startup has a demand for medicines in hospitals, homes, schools, organizations, etc and Adeola Alli understands that scaling a startup requires grit, creativity, collaboration, learning and relearning especially when challenges arise. This is how every African Founder should think.


This op-ed was contributed by Abiola Bonuola, a Nigerian PR Consultant.